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COVID is doing something to our sleep, and even our dreams: ScienceAlert

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By the end of 2022, more than 650 million COVID infections had been reported in the World Health Organization.

With the true number likely much higher, and the number increasing by hundreds of thousands every week, the community has been focused on understanding the impact of COVID on our scientific physical health, mental health, and brain function.

At the early stage of pandemicsleep scientists have mapped the costs and benefits of lockdowns on sleep habits. The main finding was that we slept more in confinement but that the quality of our sleep was worse.

Now, a second wave of data is beginning to explain how being infected with COVID is affecting our sleep and even interfering with our dreams.

The most recent meta-analysisa review of all the scientific literature currently available, estimates that 52% of people who contract COVID experience sleep disturbances during the infection.

The most commonly reported type of sleep disorder is insomnia. people with insomnia usually have trouble falling or staying asleep and often wake up early in the morning.

Worryingly, sleep problems sometimes persist even after the infection has cleared. A study in china found that 26% of people admitted to hospital with COVID had symptoms of insomnia two weeks after discharge.

And one american study showed that people who had been infected with COVID were more likely than people who had never been infected to have trouble sleeping, even up to a month after a positive COVID test.

Sleep disturbances and long COVID

While most people recover quickly from COVID, some continue to experience longer-term symptoms. People with long COVID seem very likely to face persistent sleep issues.

A study 2021 surveyed more than 3,000 people with long-term COVID. Nearly 80% of participants reported sleep problems, most commonly insomnia.

One more recent study collected data on sleep duration and quality using smart bracelets. Participants with long COVID slept less overall and slept less soundly than participants who had never had COVID.

Loss of deep sleep is of particular concern, as this type of sleep reduces our feelings of fatigue and boosts concentration and memory. Lack of deep sleep may be partly responsible for the “brain fog” commonly reported during and after COVID.

The fact that COVID often interferes with sleep is also concerning because sleep helps our immune system fight infections.

Why is COVID affecting our sleep?

There are many reasons why a COVID infection can lead to poor sleep. An opinion physiological, psychological and environmental factors identified.

COVID can have a direct impact on the brain, including zones that control both sleep and sleep states. We don’t yet have a clear understanding of how this works, but possible mechanisms could include the virus infecting the central nervous system or affecting the blood supply to the brain.

Typical symptoms of COVID include fever, cough and breathing difficulties. These are also well known to disrupt sleep.

Poor mental health can lead to sleep problems and vice versa. There is a strong bond between catching COVID and mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety. This can be caused by worries about recovery, loneliness, or social isolation. Such anxieties can make it harder to sleep.

Meanwhile, hospitalized COVID patients may face additional challenges trying to sleep in busy hospital environments where sleep is often disrupted by noise, treatments, and other patients.

What about dreams?

The International COVID-19 Sleep Studya global research project involving sleep scientists from 14 countries, recently published his dream discoveries.

The study asked infected and uninfected participants about their dreams. Both groups had more dreams after the pandemic began than before.

Curiously, infected participants had more nightmares than uninfected participants, whereas there was no difference between the groups before the pandemic.

There’s no simple explanation for why catching COVID can increase nightmares, but mental health may again play a role. Poor mental health is often accompanied by nightmares. International COVID-19[feminine] The sleep study team found that the infected group showed more symptoms of illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

Acquire help

The strong links between sleep and mental and physical health mean that preventing and treating sleep disorders has never been more important and will require creative solutions governments and health care providers.

If you’ve had trouble sleeping during or after COVID, or if you’re having more bad dreams than before, you’re not alone.

Both short-term and long-term insomnia can often be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which you can access through your doctor.

For less severe sleep disorders, the European Academy for the Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Insomnia has compiled recommendations, some based on principles applied in CBT, which you can follow at home. These include:Conversation

  • maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule
  • restrict thinking about things that stress you out at specific times of the day
  • Using your bed only for sleeping and having sex
  • go to bed and get up when you feel naturally inclined to do so
  • Sharing feelings of stress and anxiety with family and friends
  • reduce sleep disturbance from light exposure by keeping your bedroom as dark as possible
  • Exercising regularly in daylight
  • avoid eating close to bedtime.

Jakke Tamminenlecturer in psychology, Royal Holloway University of London and Rebecca CrowleyPhD student, Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London

This article is republished from Conversation under Creative Commons license. Read it original article.

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